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Development of a fluorescence internal quenching correction factor to correct botulinum neurotoxin type A endopeptidase kinetics using SNAPtide

Feltrup, TM;Singh, BR;

Botulinum neurotoxins (BoNTs), which are highly toxic proteins responsible for botulism, are produced by different strains of Clostridium botulinum. These various strains of bacteria produce seven distinct serotypes, labeled A-G. Once inside cells, the zinc-dependent proteolytic light chain (LC) degrades specific proteins involved in acetylcholine release at neuromuscular junctions causing flaccid paralysis, specifically synaptosomal-associated protein 25 (SNAP-25) for botulinum neurotoxin type A (BoNT/A). BoNT endopeptidase assays using short substrate homologues have been widely used and developed because of their ease of synthesis, detection limits, and cost. SNAPtide, a 13-amino acid fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) peptide, was used in this study as a SNAP-25 homologue for the endopeptidase kinetics study of BoNT/A LC. SNAPtide uses a fluorescein isothiocyanate/4-((4-(dimethylamino)phenyl)azo) benzoic acid (FITC/DABCYL) FRET pair to produce a signal upon substrate cleavage. Signal quenching can become an issue after cleavage since quencher molecules can quench cleaved fluorophore molecules in close proximity, reducing the apparent signal. This reduction in apparent signal provides an inherent error as SNAPtide concentrations are increased. In this study, fluorescence internal quenching (FIQ) correction factors were derived using an unquenched SNAPtide peptide to quantify the signal quenching over a range of SNAPtide concentrations and temperatures. The BoNT/A LC endopeptidase kinetics at the optimally active temperature (37 C) using SNAPtide were studied and used to demonstrate the FIQ correction factors in this study. The FIQ correction factors developed provide a convenient method to allow for improved accuracy in determining and comparing BoNT/A LC activity and kinetics using SNAPtide over a broad range of concentrations and temperatures.